On the main peninsula of the City of Vancouver in the Lower Mainland of the southwestern corner of the Canadian Province of British Columbia, the neighbourhood of Dunbar–Southlands extends northward from the Fraser River past Pacific Spirit Regional Park on the west to West 16th Avenue, where the border extends eastward to the neighbourhoods of Arbutus Ridge and Kerrisdale east of Puget Drive, Mackenzie Street, and Blenheim Street. The Southlands area of the neighbourhood south of Marine Drive near the river is one of lavish mansions, golf courses, and horse farms.
History or legend records the first European settlers as farmers Fitzgerald and Sam McCleery in 1863. In 1912, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the provincial government, which by then held most of the land, established a subdivision for construction of residences for the planned University of British Columbia under development just to the west. By 1927, Dunbar had three streetcar lines and a number of unique homes, many still standing; 21 are on the City of Vancouver heritage register.
Southlands is ideal for the high-flying, jet-setting lifestyle as Vancouver International Airport on Sea Island across the river is a short drive away. Trees line Southlands streets and often arch across the entire roadway. In early spring, hundreds of cherry trees blossom. The city maintains eight parks within Dunbar-Southlands. The extensive Pacific Spirit Regional Park has many kilometres of trails and the Camosun Bog wetland. Southlands lots are mostly of multi-acre dimensions behind million-dollar mansions that dominate the land.
Dunbar-Southland are in fact two distinct neighbourhoods combined into one. North of Southlands, Dunbar too has quiet streets lined with grand old trees and landscaped parks. Cross the line from Southlands to Dunbar and property quality declines from magnificent to merely luxurious. Multi-million dollar mansions on expansive, secluded estates give way to large single-family homes on pristine lots. Dunbar-Southland is a neighbourhood of mostly established families, not many recent immigrants, and less ethnic diversity than in Vancouver overall, but this feature may change as condominium construction makes the housing stock more affordable.
Commerce and Education
The Dunbar Business Improvement Area (BIA), the newest Vancouver BIA, covers ten blocks along Dunbar Street between 16th and 41st Avenues as far east as Collingwood Street. Shopping in the quaint stores along Dunbar Street adds to the distinctively genteel neighbourhood ambiance. About 12,350 inhabit the Dunbar BIA.
The proportion of people between the ages of 5 and 19 is well above the Metro Vancouver average. Dunbar-Southlands residents value formal education highly. The independent St George’s School on the eastern edge of Pacific Spirit Regional Park has ranked at the top of the British Columbia schools for several years. Two other schools, West Point Grey and Crofton House, rank regularly in the top five. Lord Byng and University Hill are perhaps the most academically distinguished in a field of highly reputable public secondary schools.
Fifty-six percent of Dunbar-Southlanders hold university degrees compared to thirty-nine percent for the city and thirty-one for Metro Vancouver. Perhaps reflecting the fact that neighbourhood education levels are significantly higher than average regional levels, many residents work in leadership positions and in specialized fields in social sciences, education, government, religion, business management, natural and applied sciences, and health care.
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